Zimbabwe: Dozens of miners missing underground after flooding

Rescue teams draining water after rain destroyed a dam wall, trapping gold miners

Miners gather around one of the mine shafts where   gold miners are feared dead. Photograph: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Miners gather around one of the mine shafts where gold miners are feared dead. Photograph: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

 

Dozens of Zimbabwean workers are missing and feared dead after torrential rain flooded mines while they were underground.

State broadcaster ZBC said that 38 miners were trapped while the state-run Herald newspaper put the number at 23.

Reports say the gold miners went underground near the town of Kadoma – which lies 140km (86 miles) south west of Harare – before heavy rains destroyed a dam wall, resulting in massive flooding.

A crowd gathers around a water pool leading to a mineshaft where miners are trapped and feared dead after rains flooded the mines while they were underground. Photograph: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
A crowd gathers around a water pool leading to a mineshaft where miners are trapped and feared dead after rains flooded the mines while they were underground. Photograph: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Police said that rescue teams and pumps to drain the water have been mobilised.

“The names of the people believed to have been trapped has reached 23. Chances of rescuing any survivors are very slim,” the Herald quoted Fortunate Muzulu, the administrator for the area as saying.

Large groups of men, women and children using picks, shovels and hoes are a common sight in Zimbabwe’s mineral-rich minefields.

The miners operate without regulation and safety standards are virtually non-existent.

Government officials visit one of the mineshafts. Hopes of rescuing the trapped miners are fading. Photograph: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
Government officials visit one of the mineshafts. Hopes of rescuing the trapped miners are fading. Photograph: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Zimbabwe has been working to regulate thousands of people who illegally dig for gold everywhere, including on farms and abandoned mines, mostly under the cover of darkness.

Small-scale gold producers, including illegal miners, accounted for nearly 60 percent of the record 33 tonnes of gold produced in Zimbabwe last year, according to official data. – Associated Press and Reuters